Keith Howland has been Chicago's guitarist since 1995, Tris Imboden has been their drummer since 1990. Not content to merely exist within the confines of the touring nostalgia act they're now a part of, Howland and Imboden opted to release an album of instrumental jazz/rock fusion in 2002 and followed up that release with this live album in 2003.
Showing themselves as far more than the mere "hired guns" they are for Chicago, Howland and Imboden really stretch out and show what they're capable of. The chemistry between the two of them is unmistakable (after the seven tours they'd performed together on with Chicago, one would certainly hope they'd found some level of chemistry).
While the music is relaxed and generally unoffensive, it also shows a much different side to both musicians than the musical karaoke they've been doing for their "day jobs" for the past several years. Where Chicago is their pay-check, this album shows a labour of love and it also demonstrates that these guys are more than just Terry Kath and Danny Seraphine "substitutes."
Much of the material on this CD, all original compositions by Howland and Imboden, would not sound out of place on a Larry Carlton or Lee Ritenour album, at the same time it has enough individuality and spunk to be very much the product of Keith and Tris.
Stand-out tracks include the hauntingly emotive Philly Blue (the most frequent victim of my repeat button), the upbeat Cement Mixer, and the laidback Fallin' in a Hole but the album as a whole is thoroughly enjoyable from start to finish.